KANNAPOLIS – A late rally by the Carolina Diamonds was not enough to rein in the Chicago Bandits, who won their second straight game, 7-6. “We did what we didn’t do yesterday, which was get those hits with runners in scoring position,” Diamonds head coach Lisa Navas said after.
Morgan Melloh took to the circle for Carolina against Chicago’s Nikki Nemitz and the two pitchers held each other scoreless in the first inning. However, the Bandits would score six runs in the second inning before a pitching change brought in Sara Plourde to close out the inning for the Diamonds.
“Our pitching needs to limit the runs and our bats need to come alive and hopefully we turn it around in Hickory,” Navas said.
Shannon Doepking first broke the stalemate by driving in Whitney Larsen and Amanda Williams for Chicago with a double. Doepking scored several batters later when Alisa Goler walked with the bases loaded, making the score 3-0. Kristen Butler hit a triple to knock in Vicky Galindo, Megan Wiggins and Alisa Goler. Plourde inherited the circle from Melloh for the Diamonds but a wild pitch allowed Brittany Cervantes to score, making it 7-0 before the inning’s end.
Carolina’s bats immediately came alive in the third when first baseman GiOnna DiSalvatore hit a two-run homer to center that just hit off the tip of Wiggins’ outstretched glove, driving in Jami Lobpries. Rachel Folden followed with her own solo home run to left field two pitches later, making it 7-3.
Danielle Spaulding and Brittany McKinney’s University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill connection took over the Carolina defense in the fourth inning when Spaulding relieved Plourde.
“They are a good pair. Dani has really come around. We have gradually given her more innings and she is probably working herself into the starting rotation,” Navas said of the two.
Natalie Villarreal hit a hard single up the middle to start the fifth. She would be driven to second when DiSalvatorre singled up the middle. Rachel Folden then singled to left and drove in the speedy Villarreal, closing the gap to 7-4.
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The Diamonds would attempt a final seventh inning rally beginning with a Annie Lockwood double. A double up the middle by DiSalvatore would drive Lockwood in to make it 7-5. Rachel Folden then walked and DiSalvatore advanced to third when Bandits catcher Shannon Doepking dropped the fourth ball. Nemitz loaded the bases when she walked Kelsi Weseman, bringing Bianca Mejia to the plate. Mejia drove DiSalvatore in with a line drive to the third base bag and was thrown out for the second out, but not before reigning the Diamonds in to 7-6. Another passed ball would walk Lunceford and see Weseman take third. Unfortunately another hard liner to third by McKinney would bring the third out, stop the rally and ensure the Bandits victory over Carolina. “It’s a game of inches and the inch went their way,” Navas said of the final play.
About National Pro Fastpitch: National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.